I write because I relish the blank page. While some people see a blank page and feel fear, loathing, intimidation, frustration and the like, to me, a blank page signals the art of the possible. It’s the chance to create something new, take a well-worn topic and turn it on its head, dig deeper to make the reader think, feel and act differently. That’s what I’ve done in business writing and now in my first novel.
I wrote Reluctant Hero to fill a creative void. I wrote to prove I could. I wrote because after reading myriad young adult novels with my pre-teens, I knew what resonated with them – and what didn’t. Mostly, I wrote to create a world that both they and I would enjoy.
The writing process seduced me. I couldn’t wait to write and research every morning before work and every evening before I went to sleep. I carried a notebook with me and placed another by my bedside to capture words, phrases and ideas. I dictated notes to my kids to type into my iPhone while I was driving. In short, I was hooked.
After finishing my manuscript, I joined a local writers forum and was accepted to the Ridgefield Writers Conference and Sarah Lawrence College’s Advanced Novel Workshop. Armed with a dozen constructive critiques, I embarked on my first wholesale rewrite shortly thereafter, and immediately felt intimidated and uninspired. So I did what struggling writers often do: I binge-watched TV. No ordinary programming, though, I watched the BBC’s 2006 four-hour miniseries of Jane Eyre (an excellent rendition, by the way). It had been at least 25 years since I’d read the novel, but it was as gripping and relevant today as it was then and, I suspect, as it was when Charlotte Bronte put pen to her blank page. The story transported me. I was mesmerized by the characters, romance and dialogue, and humbled by its elegance.
How dare I have the audacity to think I could create a work of art? The next day though, ideas came…new ways to tell my tale, rewrite and revise, to take the story to the next level.
I’m not sure if I found the story or the story found me, but I’m eager to share it and more stories that transport readers the way they have me.
Here’s to the blank page.
Erin Robinson-Lis has been a Corporate Communications professional for more than 20 years. She develops and implements global internal communications strategies to inform, engage and inspire employees at American Express, PepsiCo and most recently Mercer, a Human Resources consulting firm based in Manhattan.
Erin has taken her writing and editing skills in an exciting new direction – authoring a unique mash-up young adult novel that combines a budding romance with an epic, enchanting Irish legend. Steeped in Irish culture, music and literature with a healthy dose of humor, Reluctant Hero asks the question, if faced with the choice to embrace your destiny or defy it, what would you do?
Erin lives in the equally enchanting Sleepy Hollow, New York with her husband, their twin daughters, son, and dog.